Matt Durkin to stage Broadway hit ‘Avenue Q’ at The Center Theater

NORRISTOWN – Don’t let the Muppet costumes fool you.

If you are waiting for Kermit to make a cameo during Avenue Q you are going to be either sorely disappointed…or pleasantly surprised depending on your sense of humor.

In May, the Center Theater in Norristown will be presenting Avenue Q, the raunchy, raucous, Muppet

Presented by special arrangement with Music Theater International, the Broadway hit makes it’s way to DeKalb Street this spring. According to Playbill, Avenue Q ranks 24th on the list of longest running shows in Broadway history with more than 3,000 performances.

Described as, “a laugh-out-loud musical that tells the timeless story of a bright-eyed college grad named Princeton. When he arrives in the city with big dreams and a tiny bank account, he has to move into a shabby apartment all the way out on AVENUE Q. Still, the neighbors seem nice. There, he meets Kate (the girl next door), Lucy (the slut), Rod (the Republican), Trekkie (the internet entrepreneur), superintendent Gary Coleman and other new friends! Together, they struggle to find jobs, dates, and their ever-elusive purpose in life.”

How far is it from Sesame Street?

During recent rehearsals, the actors were practicing, “Schadenfreude,” a number about taking pleasure in the misfortune of others. It isn’t even close to the show’s most risqué tune – “The Internet is for Porn.”

“It’s Sesame Street meet South Park,” says producer Matt Durkin.

“Puppets can get away with more than a human being,” commented director Carmen Rossi.

Durkin, a 24-year-old Norristown resident who is also the co-founder of Starving Artist Prevention, was adamant in his suggestion that The King of Prussia Players next production be the wildly popular title.

When he first started researching, Durkin liked the idea of poking fun at social normalities and oversensitivity.

“Just enjoy life. I understand there are certain things that need to be brought to light but the show is also about getting a good laugh,” said Durkin.

Director Rossi conceded that the irreverent comedy is different from other musicals she has helmed such as Bye, Bye Birdie and Oliver. But it is one of her favorites.

She pointed out how the actor has to become the puppet. If it is done correctly, the audience won’t think the person is doing the voice. Also, unlike the actors who handle them, the puppets have costume changes.

“It is a little difficult. It’s a challenge but a lot of fun. Working with the actors, they are a great and talented bunch of people between singing, acting and handling the puppet.”

“It’s Muppets. Who doesn’t like to see Muppets on stage,” said Durkin. However, he recommended the two-hour show for mature 16-year-olds and up.

The cast includes: Princeton: CJ Nave, Kate Monster: Alex Gregory, Trekkie Monster: Jim Fryer, Rod: Kevin Durkin, Nicky: Rob Frankel, Lucy the Slut: Jenn Smith, Brian: Brett Brashers. Mrs. Thistletwat: Patrina Harding, Bad Idea Bear: Paula Urmson, Gary Coleman: Meredith Bell, Christmas Eve: Ashley O’Connor. Choreography by Dr. Lauren McGinnis.